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UNJUST ENRICHMENT IN NEW ZEALAND

Lloyd's Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly

UNJUST ENRICHMENT IN NEW ZEALAND

Peter Watts*

CASES

1. Blundell Concrete Ltd v Haronga [2018] NZHC 995 (HC: Whata J).
Theft by employee—payment into bank accounts of employee’s domestic partner and a relative—recipients allowing employee to withdraw funds for gambling—money had and received—no ministerial receipt defence
The first defendant was an office manager employed by the claimant. She was found to have misappropriated funds in that capacity, causing them to be paid into bank accounts held respectively by herself, her domestic partner and another relative, N. A daughter who was a minor was also sued, but no judgment was entered against her. No change of position defence appears to have been run.
Decision: The first defendant was liable for the thefts, and the other defendants, other than the minor, were also liable for the moneys received.
Held: (1) “‘Unjust enrichment’ is a unifying or umbrella concept for claims based on breach of confidence and/or money had and received”. (2) The defendants other than the first defendant were not liable in knowing receipt, because the requisite knowledge element had not been established against them. (3) The defendants other than the minor were prima facie liable in money had and received. Once receipt is shown, no proof of wrongdoing is required, nor is actual enrichment (Napier v Torbay Holdings Ltd [2016] NZCA 608; [2018] RLR, §290 applied). N put in no defence. (4) The defence of ministerial receipt was not available to the partner because the moneys were not received by him as agent, he had given unfettered authorisation to the first defendant to operate the relevant accounts, knew about her gambling practice and stood to benefit from it (National Commercial Banking Corp v Batty (1986) 160 CLR 251 distinguished).
2. Christie v Foster [2019] NZCA 623 (CA: French, Lang and Mander JJ).
Undue influence—will—in severance of joint tenancies—conflict of laws—jurisdiction—forum conveniens
The appellants, Irish solicitors, were the executors of the estate of a woman, G, domiciled in Ireland. The respondent was one of G’s children, who was resident in New Zealand. G had owned land with the respondent in New Zealand (G had other land in Ireland). G’s two other children (M and R) resided in Ireland. In 2011, G had resolved to move

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Devices

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